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June 21, 2011

Too much time indoors leads to poor eyesight

The Sun Is the Best Optometrist - NYTimes.com
Researchers suspect that bright outdoor light helps children’s developing eyes maintain the correct distance between the lens and the retina — which keeps vision in focus. Dim indoor lighting doesn’t seem to provide the same kind of feedback. As a result, when children spend too many hours inside, their eyes fail to grow correctly and the distance between the lens and retina becomes too long, causing far-away objects to look blurry. One study published in 2008 in the Archives of Ophthalmology compared 6- and 7-year-old children of Chinese ethnicity living in Sydney, Australia, with those living in Singapore. The rate of nearsightedness in Singapore (29 percent) was nearly nine times higher than in Sydney. The rates of nearsightedness among the parents of the two groups of children were similar, but the children in Sydney spent on average nearly 14 hours per week outside, compared with just three hours per week in Singapore. Similarly, a 2007 study by scholars at Ohio State University found that, among American children with two myopic parents, those who spent at least two hours per day outdoors were four times less likely to be nearsighted than those who spent less than one hour per day outside. In short, the biological mechanism that kept our vision naturally sharp for thousands of sunny years has, under new environmental conditions, driven visual development off course. This capacity for previously well-adapted genes to be flummoxed by the modern world can account for many apparent imperfections. Brain wiring that effortlessly recognizes faces, animals and other symmetrical objects can be thrown off by letters and numbers, leading to reading difficulties. A restless nature was once helpful to people who needed to find food sources in the wild, but in today’s classrooms, it’s often classified as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. When brains that are adapted for face-to-face social interactions instead encounter a world of e-mail and Twitter — well, recent headlines show what can happen.

Watch the Miss USA contestants discuss evolution

Some good answers here.

June 16, 2011

UPDATED: Japanese researcher creates artifical meat from human feces

A friendly Mojonaut from Indiana writes: > I thought you might want to reclassify your story on Japanese researchers creating meat from feces from "Scientific(k)" to some other category. I did some digging around, and I couldn't find an "Environmental Assessment Center" in Okayama, and Okayama University lists no Mitsuyuki Ikeda on their faculty or research staffs. Google Scholar had nothing on the guy either... no papers and (obviously) no citations. All of the links I've seen only seem to source back to that YouTube video. > > Seems to me like it's just a very "shitty" joke or spoof that's been passed around as if it's true. Dunno if you guys knew it and were just rolling with it, but it's apparently a hoax. POOP BURGER: Japanese Researchers Create Artificial Meat From Human Feces | Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World
The meatpacking industry causes 18 percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, mostly due to the release of methane from animals. The livestock industry also consumes huge amounts of feed and water in relation to the amount of meat that it yields, and many find the industry to be inhumane and cruel to animals. These factors alone are reason enough for vegetarians to replace their meat intake with vegetable proteins and legumes. But Ikeda, a scientist at the Environmental Assessment Center in Okayama, sought to further the field of alternative proteins by recycling a form of protein-rich waste : sewage mud. “Sewage mud” is exactly what you think it is – poop. Ikeda’s process begins by extracting protein and lipids from the “mud.” The lipids are then combined with a reaction enhancer, then whipped into “meat” in an exploder. Ikeda then makes the poop more savory, by adding soya and steak sauce. Currently, the price of the poop burgers are 10-20 times that of regular meat, due to the cost of research, but he feels they will even out in a few years. He admits that “some people” may have a psychological aversion to eating artificial meat made of their own poop at first, but thinks many would be open to personally completing the food chain. He also notes that the burgers are extremely low in fat. The artificial meat is low in fat and reduces waste and carbon emissions, however it’s hard to believe that any number of benefits could persuade consumers to take a bite out of a poop sandwich.